Mamaearth parent, Patanjali Ayurved, Firstcry among major ad violators in FY24

• Mamaearth parent Honasa had 187 ad violations• After illegal betting ads, health and wellness ads were found to be most violative

Varuni Khosla
First Published22 May 2024
Patanjali's violative ads included endorsements of products like its DantKanti toothpaste, chyawanprash, inflection fighting ayurvedic medicines,. (File Photo: Reuters)
Patanjali’s violative ads included endorsements of products like its DantKanti toothpaste, chyawanprash, inflection fighting ayurvedic medicines,. (File Photo: Reuters)

Yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd may have been rapped by the Supreme Court for its misleading ads, but the biggest advertising violator of FY24 was Mamaearth parent Honasa Consumer Pvt. Ltd, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said on Wednesday.

ASCI found Honasa to be the biggest violator with 187 such ads, followed by sports betting companies WinDaddy and Fun88 India with 98 each.

Honasa also runs brands like Dr. Sheth’s Skin and Hair Clinic, Aqualogica, The Derma Co. and Ayuga.

ASCI said in a report that Patanjali was involved in as many as 28 advertising violations in FY24.

These included endorsements of products such as its DantKanti toothpaste, chyawanprash, infection-fighting Ayurvedic medicines, heart medicines, ointments, honey, sprays, and orthopaedic and pain-relief tablets, the report said.

Also read: After Patanjali rebuke, Supreme Court targets makers, endorsers of deceptive food and health ads

Women’s fashion retailing platform Urbanic’s parent Maysquare Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd, Rummy24 run by Ability Games as well as makeup brand Renee Cosmetics were also among companies allegedly violating advertising standards.

Other companies in the list included Bright Lifecare Pvt. Ltd which owns MuscleBlaze and HealthKart and firms like Unacademy and FirstCry.

Interestingly, betting and gambling companies have overtaken healthcare firms that are making false claims of magical remedies as the most violative ads this year, said the report.

A majority or 85% of all complaints made against false and misleading advertisements last year were made for those appearing on digital platforms.

Of all the ads listed, over 1,300 ads of illegal betting were reported to the information and broadcasting ministry, along with about 150 ads of liquor promotion and e-cigarettes and vapes, said ASCI. About 1,250 ads were reported for drugs and magical remedies to the ministry of Ayush. Nearly 250 advertisers were reported during the year for a potential violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954 (DMR).

Most of these were website advertisements from marketplaces and 91% of these ads were in violation since they dealt with maintenance and enhancement of "sexual prowess".

Advertising for several products is prohibited by various laws in the country. For instance, advertisements for drugs that claim to offer "miraculous cures", betting and gambling services, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco products are all illegal. 

Digital ads 

These advertisements often appear on digital platforms, which many brands use to promote such products. Additionally, while some categories are outright banned from advertising, others, like real estate, must include specific information such as registration numbers and QR codes in their advertisements. Failure to provide this mandatory information also constitutes a legal violation.

"The number of ads that made a violation on digital mediums have gone up nearly three-fold in the last 3-4 years. This is because for many categories advertising has moved to the digital medium and also, unlike television, there are generally more ads in terms of volumes now than from a few years ago," Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general of the council said.

Recently Mint reported that the government was working on a three-ministerial taskforce to deal with violative advertisements to reign in the problems being caused by digitial ads. 

Also read: Patanjali soan papdi fails quality test, three fined and sent to prison

Interest in general, in the healthcare segment has grown post the pandemic, which has possibly led to many more advertisements in this category. 

Also, healthcare companies were earlier using hyperlocal and regional newspapers to advertise their products where they were possibly avoiding being caught. A lot of those businesses are advertising digitally now. 

Another large category that had violative ads was skin and personal care with 98% of the 1,000 plus ads, that ASCI looked into, needing to be amended. This segment that was called out was almost entirely advertising digitally too, with 95% of ads seen on digital media. Of this, a majority, 55% were endorsed by influencers.

 

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